Fabien Galthie has warned France’s Guinness Six Nations rivals that his side still have significant room for improvement ahead of their showdown with Ireland.
Les Bleus have won eight of 10 games under head coach Galthie and arrive at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Sunday as tournament favourites.
The only French setbacks since the 2019 World Cup were defeat to Scotland in last year’s Six Nations following a first-half red card for prop Mohamed Haouas, and a dramatic extra-time loss to England in the Autumn Nations Cup final when more than 20 players were unavailable.
🔄 Penaud on the wing and Jelonch starting at flanker for @FranceRugby 🇫🇷
Teddy Thomas and Dylan Cretin drop to the bench for the #GuinnessSixNations trip to Ireland – thoughts, France fans? 🤔
— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) February 12, 2021
Despite his team receiving plenty of plaudits, Galthie is eager for further improvement.
“You just have to look at the results. We have won eight out of 10 matches,” he told a pre-match press conference.
“In Scotland, we lost following a red card and in London we lost in extra-time.
“We will continue to make progress in many areas and we have significant room for improvement.”
Inspired by the electric talents of scrum-half Antoine Dupont, France began the tournament with a resounding 50-10 win away to Italy.
— Antoine Dupont (@Dupont9A) February 12, 2021
A subsequent shock defeat for defending champions England at the hands of Scotland has boosted French hopes of going one better than last year, when they finished runners-up on points difference.
Galthie has made two changes for the Ireland game, dropping wing Teddy Thomas and flanker Dylan Cretin – who were both on the scoresheet in Rome – to the bench in favour of Damian Penaud and Anthony Jelonch.
“Penaud fits the profile of the type of player which will allow us to be present in a sector of the game we imagine the Irish will rely on a lot, going down the blindside and also putting the ball up in the air,” said Galthie, explaining his selection.
“He, to me, appears prepared for this type of battle.”
France are seeking a first Six Nations win in Dublin in a decade following a draw in 2013 and three successive losses, while Ireland must win to keep alive their title hopes after losing to Wales.